Tag Archives: B2B Omaha Magazine

Seamus Campbell Takes the Stage

April 18, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Like so many kids, 9-year-old Seamus Campbell loves The Jungle Book. He’s one of countless children to be enchanted by the thought of boppin’ around the jungle with cool, scat-singing Baloo, relishing the “Bare Necessities” that can make life so grand.

But he’s not just another kid imagining himself to be Mowgli, the freewheeling man-cub searching for his place in the jungle. This year, Campbell became Mowgli.

Omaha Performing Arts’ Disney Musicals in Schools program, produced in collaboration with Disney Theatrical Group, let Campbell and some of his Harrison Elementary classmates take on the role of storyteller and perform in their own production of The Jungle Book.

Campbell, who played the role of Mowgli, uses words like “proud” and “fun” a lot when describing his experience.

“It’s been so fun,” Campbell says. “Mowgli gets a lot of lines and gets to move around a lot. I like the dancing, running around, talking, getting to put on costumes…It’s fun that we all get to know each other better.”

Campbell’s love of The Jungle Book—particularly Disney’s 1967 animated movie version—was his original inspiration to participate. He describes Mowgli as “very stubborn,” but says his character learns “a whole lot, like trusting your friends and listening to others.”

Kathleen Lawler Hustead, Omaha Performing Arts’ education manager, says her team kicked off the program for the 2016/2017 school year, letting third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students from five OPS elementary schools explore musical theater from a new angle. Omaha Performing Arts is the 13th arts organization in the nation to implement the Disney Musicals in Schools program, which began in 2009.

“Disney only selects performing arts organizations with strong education departments, so we were thrilled to be among the select few brought into the program,” Lawler Hustead says.

The program is designed for sustainability, so Disney-trained, local teaching artists work with each school in its first year to develop school team members into music directors, choreographers, and stage managers, with the skills and confidence to continue the program when the teaching artists transition to the next batch of first-year schools.

“The great part about this program is it will continue for many years to come,” Lawler Hustead says, noting that after schools complete year one, they move to alumni status and continue to receive support and free or discounted materials in subsequent years. “We’ll add five new schools each year, with the eventual goal of nearly every elementary school in the Omaha area, and potentially beyond, having these sustainable musical theater programs.”

“It’s been so fun,” Campbell says. “Mowgli gets a lot of lines and gets to move around a lot. I like the dancing, running around, talking, getting to put on costumes…It’s fun that we all get to know each other better.”

Participating elementary schools are chosen based on need and commitment to sustaining the program in coming years. In addition to Harrison performing The Jungle Book, Omaha’s other Disney Musicals in Schools pioneers were Crestridge, Kennedy, and Wilson Focus—each performing The Lion King—and Liberty performing Aladdin.

After 17 weeks of preparation and rehearsal, Campbell and the other participating students performed the 30-minute shows at their schools. They also performed select songs at an all-school Student Share Celebration, produced by Omaha Performing Arts and held at the Holland Center.

“I am so proud of our kids and staff,” Harrison Principal Andrea Haynes says. “It just shows you that kids have this capacity and latent talent, and it’s our job to give them opportunities to cultivate that.”

Teaching artists Kelsey Schwenker and Sarah Gibson coached the Harrison team, which consisted of (director) fourth grade teacher Callen Goodrich, (music director) first grade teacher Anna Rivedal, (choreographer) librarian Rachel Prieksat, (stage manager) parent Danielle Herzog, (costume and set designer) paraprofessional Elizabeth Newman, and (production assistant) school secretary Linda Davey.

While the team successfully conjured Disney magic, there was much more to it than a simple flick of Tinker Bell’s wand. The school team and students devoted many extra hours of hard work and practice. Campbell is quick to agree that being in a musical is part work and part play—so what made him want to devote extra time between busy school days and evening Boy Scouts meetings?

“To make everyone like the play,” he says. “Since my parents and everyone are going to see it, I want to do a good job and make my family proud.”

Campbell’s eyes light up when he describes seeing the set and costumes for the first time.

“When the door opened, we saw there were vines, plants, and a rock—and it was raining glitter!” Campbell says.

The Harrison team created a vibrant jungle atmosphere and costumed the cast into a believable band of panthers, monkeys, snakes, tigers, wolves, bears, and, of course, one “man-cub.” At the Student Share, the creative, colorful costumes on display from all the schools were second only to the students’ enthusiasm.

“It’s been so inspiring to see what this program does for students and teachers, and to watch the students light up and grow over the process,” Lawler Hustead says. “Not only are they learning to sing, dance, and act, they’re learning critical thinking skills, problem-solving, communication, self-confidence, and how to be a team player.”

Campbell, who also loves Star Wars, football, and Percy Jackson, says his experience taught him to be brave and, of course, that the show must always go on.

“[If you mess up], you just redo the line or skip by that line,” he says confidently.

Haynes says exposing young kids to the arts fosters an important self-reliance.

“It can plant the seed in them that they can do anything,” she says. “That sense of self-confidence is so important in this world, and will carry you through all kinds of obstacles.”

Visit omahaperformingarts.org for more information.

This article was published in the May/June 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Seamus Campbell

April 13-16 Weekend Picks

April 12, 2017 by

PICK OF THE WEEK—SATURDAY, APRIL 15: Filmstreams is preparing for the appearance of Oscar winner Julianne Moore April 24 by screening some of the actresses best films. This Saturday at 6:25 p.m., don’t miss The Dude and company in the classic hazy L.A. noir The Big Lebowski. Moore memorably portrays The Dude’s (Jeff Bridges) feminist artist client. The film by Joel and Ethan Cohen has made plenty of critics top 10 ever movie lists. Peter Travers’ of Rolling Stone wrote “Maybe it’s the way the Coen brothers tie everything together with bowling that makes this Los Angeles-based tale of burnouts, gun buffs, doobies, tumbleweeds, art, nihilism, porn, pissed-on rugs, severed toes, Saddam Hussein, attack marmots, Teutonic techno-pop and Bob Dylan—not to mention extortion, kidnapping and death—such a hilarious pop-culture hash.” For more info, go here.

THURSDAY, APRIL 13: Although he’s the spawn of two country music legends (Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter), songwriter/video game creator Shooter Jennings has paved his own musical path. You can check out Shooter’s mesh of country, rock, EDM, and more TONIGHT at the Waiting Room Lounge (6212 Maple St.) at 9 p.m. Jennings has released eight studio albums, two live records, and has produced and released various projects courtesy of his own record label Black Country Rock. He rarely sticks to one format, which has become his signature non-style. For more info, go here.

SATURDAY, APRIL 15: Two of our favorite things merge this weekend in the Old Market. The Fur & Fashion Pop-Up Boutique will materialize in the parking lot of The Diner (409 S. 12th St.) Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fashionista pet owners can come shop for themselves and their dogs. Hello Ruby, Omaha’s first mobile fashion truck, will have their stylish, yet affordable clothing and accessories on site, and Ripley & Rue, the dog bandana and accessories boutique, will be doing personalized pup name bandanas. So don’t forget to bring your pup to this very dog-friendly free event. For more information, go here.

SATURDAY, APRIL 15: Shoppers can get in the Easter spirit this Saturday at Dundee’s Hello Holiday (5008 Underwood Ave.) The Eggcellent Eggstravaganza for Eggstra Special Hunnybunnies runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the boutique. Shop Hello Holiday’s spring 2017 collection, which includes fashion from Tuesday Bassen, Samantha Pleet, and more. Be sure to get there early: Complimentary breakfast and mimosas will be provided for the first two hours. Draw from the “eggcelent” prize basket for special discounts, prizes, and other cool stuff. All are welcome and make sure to bring along your favorite “hunnybunny.” More info here.

THROUGH APRIL: The exhibit A Painters Yoga Journey continues at the 1516 Gallery (1516 Leavenworth St.) this week. It features a series of 48 painting by Robert Bosco, associate professor of painting at Creighton University. Each piece of artwork focuses on a different yoga posture. Collectively they are becoming part of a book on classical yoga entitled Yoga: The Discipline, written by Margaret Hahn, the originator of the Omaha Yoga School in the Old Market. According to his gallery bio, Bosco, a yoga practitioner, explores the deep yoga experience in his paintings. Bosco’s loyalty to this project has merged the science and preciousness of classical yoga with his personal sense of aesthetics. All proceeds from the various publications and prints raised from this exhibit are committed to world refugee organizations. For exhibit times and admission, go here.

FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF AREA EVENTS, CLICK HERE

March 31-April 2 Weekend Picks

March 30, 2017 by


PICK OF THE WEEK
: Not many international events are held in Omaha. That’s why it really is a big deal that people from around the globe have been filling up the area’s hotels this week as the FEI World Cup equestrian championship gallops into full throttle. The competition that began Wednesday is considered the equestrian equivalent of the Masters in golf or the U.S. Open in tennis. More than 50 horses and their riders will compete in both dressage (horse training and movement) and jumping events with the finals on Saturday and Sunday at CenturyLink Center. How did these beautiful equines from all over the world make their way to the Big O? Check out the latest issue of Omaha Magazine or online here for the scoop on the horses’ big trip from Amsterdam, Netherlands. For more information about the World Cup and to view a schedule of events, go here.

TONIGHT: Thursday, March 30: Another huge Omaha event is the annual MAHA music festival. Organizers have been mum about the this year’s lineup. The silence will be broken TONIGHT at Benson’s Reverb Lounge (6121 Military Ave.). The reveal video will be shown at 8 p.m., followed by karaoke. The pain or excitement of the announcement will be eased or enhanced by plenty of drink specials. Tickets for MAHA (Aug. 19 in Aksarben Village) also will be on sale. Now in its ninth year, the nonprofit indie music festival features an all-day lineup of local and national acts. Prior years’ headliners include Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, Garbage, Dashboard Confessional, and Passion Pit. For more information, click here.

Friday, March 31: With Lent season in full swing, Omaha Magazine provides an awesome guide to getting your fish Fridays on. Executive editor Doug Meigs compiled a list of six must-try fish fries. “Expect to spend a few hours standing and waiting in line at Omaha’s most-popular fish fries,” Meigs reports. “The long wait—and the chance to meet new friends while drinking beer—is sometimes the most fun part of the evening.” Great grub mixed with alcohol and friendly conversation? That doesn’t sound fishy at all.

NEW GRUB IN NODO: Speaking of fish, one of the metro’s best new seafood restaurants is Hook & Lime + Tequila (735 N. 14th St.) located across from Slowdown in Nodo. The menu features a large selection of top-quality Mexican dishes, including a la carte tacos and tortas, all for under $20. “We have this amazing menu, these amazing items, that we’re able to bring to people who normally wouldn’t get to experience them,” owner Robbie Malm says. “We’re trying to take that food, that approach of sourcing locally and treating these items with respect, and make it more approachable. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a suit and tie or flip-flops, we welcome everybody here.” And don’t forget about the tequila. Read all about Hook & Lime is the latest issue of Omaha Magazine’s Encounter, or read the article online here.

Saturday, April 1: Tequila shots may be just the thing to celebrate “150 Years of Nebraska Poetry” at the launch party for the new book Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, which will be released in May. The University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Criss Library is hosting the event Saturday at 3 p.m. on the lower level of the library. Editor Daniel Simon will be on hand to discuss his anthology—the first of its scope to encompass 150 years of the state’s literary history, featuring 80-plus poets and more than 180 poems. This landmark collection includes poems by such well-known poets as Willa Cather, Loren Eiseley, and Tillie Olsen—as well as some remarkable but relatively forgotten writers from the late 19th to the mid-20gth centuries. For more information or to order the book, click here.

FOR A COMPLETE LISTING OF EVENTS, CLICK HERE.

Let States Deal Individually 
with fuel dependence

February 1, 2014 by

Large, centralized government perpetuates stupidity in a manner that defies reason. The framers of the Constitution understood this well, as reflected in the decentralization of power to the individual states. Each state, with its varied interests, was to individually be an incubator of better ideas. The union was to be a competitive relationship as well as a collective one.

But today, with the very best of intentions and far removed from their constituents, our representatives in Washington enact gigantic solutions. Solutions devoid of reality.

The Renewable Fuel Mandate is one such gigantic solution to the perceived problem of Peak Oil and dependence on imported oil. Now that we know all of our oil needs are well satisfied by crude oil production in the Americas, prudence would dictate that Congress end the mandate (in other words, farm subsidies).

But alas, no.

There is a loud sucking sound in the corn-producing states. Interests big and small depend on the federal mandate, one way or another. From tractor sales, farmland sales, petroleum fertilizer sales, and ethanol distillation, a relatively small number of people profit from the general public thanks to a silly solution to a non-existent problem.

Had the ethanol mandate solution been left to individual states, it would be easier to correct. As it is being answered on a federal level, the bureaucratic momentum 
appears unstoppable.

An illustrative example is the reluctance of even Iowa farming communities to use ethanol-laced gasoline. They know what damage it causes to expensive engines. Then there’s the fertilizer-caused dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the high water consumption, the high energy use to produce ethanol, the willingness of using food for fuel, the early caucus in Iowa, and the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, D.C.

Even Europeans are waking up to the stupidity of renewable fuels. They see that vast areas of rain forest are being cleared to produce “green” diesel; that ethanol burns dirty in engines designed to burn gasoline, polluting the air; and that the lower energy content in ethanol reduces gas mileage in engines designed to burn gasoline. For all these reasons and more, the E.U. is proposing to limit the renewable content in their diesel and gasoline to 6 percent.

The increasing mandate in the U.S. is forcing gasoline refiners to purchase Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) or ethanol credits because they have hit the 10 percent blend wall. Wall Street gamblers (such as JP Morgan Chase, recently fined $920 million for their business practices) saw this coming and purchased all the federal credits they could get their hands on.

The unattainable mandate paired with the forced purchase of RIN credits has caused the price of the credits to climb 2,000 percent. This huge Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expense will be forced upon the consumer in the form of big gasoline price increases. Yet one more federally mandated wealth transfer from the average guy to the gamblers with the cozy relationships 
with legislators.

But as long as the EPA continues to say, “Who cares about reality,” the Renewable Fuel Mandate will continue. As gasoline consumption continues to decline, the percentage of ethanol will have to increase to meet the increasing mandate. Therefore, our well-intended but dumb solution will get 
even dumber.

What we need to ask is whether the Renewable Fuel Mandate makes sense. Economically? Environmentally? Would each of the corn producing states individually impose the same mandate within their state borders?

The answer to each is a resounding no.

Any views and/or opinions expressed in “The Know-It-All” are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of B2B Omaha magazine, or its parent company, and/or 
its affiliates.

Shocking Us
 into Ethics

January 21, 2014 by

If you took a psychology class in high school or college, you studied the Milgram experiments.

In these experiments, a Teacher, the only one who didn’t know the true objective of the study, was told by an Experimenter to progressively shock a Learner with up to 450 volts of electricity when the Learner did not respond with correct answers. The Learner was never really shocked, although the Teacher thought he was because of the Learner’s (faked) cries, pleas, and protests. The Teacher was even led to believe that the Learner had a heart condition that could be exacerbated by the shocks.

The purpose of the Milgram experiments was to evaluate the extent to which someone would harm another person when told to do so by an authority figure. In this case, the authority was the Experimenter who wore a white lab coat and regularly told the Teacher (while the Teacher progressively shocked the Learner with more and more volts), “Once started, the experiment must go on,” or “Don’t worry, I will take 
full responsibility.”

What do you think? How many Teachers shocked the Learner to the fullest extent, even when the Teachers believed that the Learner had passed out from the shocks?

About two-thirds.

Approximately two out of three people continued to do what they were told, even though they believed that they were greatly harming another human being. Why?

Stanley Milgram believed that humans are hard-wired, in a way, to obey authority. Whoever the authority figure—our bosses, our teachers, our religious figures—we are psychologically disposed to obey.

When we apply Milgram’s experiment to the workplace, we gain a better understanding of why business people do bad things. Business people may behave unethically, not because they are greedy or evil, but because they are instructed to do so.

Even more fascinating is that one out of three Teachers refused to shock the Learners with up to 450 volts. Interestingly, there was a point in the study around 150 volts when a cluster of Teachers disobeyed the Experimenter. Why stop there?

The answer (Packer, 2008) is that it was at this point that the Learner would protest not only with cries of pain but with exclamations like, “I won’t be in this experiment anymore!” and “I refuse to go on!” This change in the Learner’s communication, from cries of pain to ones that express the moral concepts of rights, liberty, and freedom, allowed some Teachers to break away from the Experimenter’s authority, disengage from their role in the experiment, and reduce harm.

Let’s apply the previous conclusion to the workplace by making two points.

First, language and conversation affect our decision-making and actions (Werhane et. al., 2013). The language we use with our peers and subordinates can lull them into complacency or shock them into ethical behavior. So let’s be intentional about using moral words at work. And let’s start conversations about ethics every day by talking about current ethical issues and workplace situations.

Second, it is unlikely that the online compliance training that has swept corporate America will create the kinds of good behavior that leaders seek from their employees in the workplace. Granted, these practices are efficient and allow organizations to easily show that every employee has had ethics and compliance training. But without human interaction and discourse, there is no life to the education and we have yet to see proof that they create real behavioral impact.

Let’s continue to develop the strategies that shock us into ethics. Join with other Omaha business leaders who are at the front of a new ethics education model, creating city-level and organizational programs where well-crafted, face-to-face dialogue is positively affecting the minds and ethical behaviors of our workforce.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is Executive Director of Business Ethics Alliance and Chair of Business Ethics & Society at Creighton University’s College of Business.

Sweet Design
 from Sweet Afton Studios

January 15, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It’s not often that a grocery list grabs people’s attention.

But that’s exactly what happened the other day at a restaurant for Krystal Leichliter and her husband Ryan. Krystal and Ryan are the owners of Sweet Afton Studios, a design and letterpress studio. Krystal was using an extra card from a recent project to write her grocery list. A waitress, mesmerized, came up and immediately started feeling the back of the card.

That experience spoke volumes to Krystal, because she says she saw how much letterpress really jumps out to people. As she explains, the paper used for letterpress is made of 100 percent cotton, so it’s very soft and tactile.

While Krystal and Ryan founded Sweet Afton Studios in 2011 after they obtained a letterpress, they have expanded their business to designing business cards, wedding invitations, signs, logos, banners, and more. Their goal is to make brands, gifts, and even everyday products stand out with an exceptional and personalized design.

Krystal is the designer at Sweet Afton, while Ryan runs the press. Krystal had worked in advertising for years, but decided she wanted to leave the corporate setting. She had always loved beautiful paper, and after designing wedding invitations and logos for friends, letterpress and design were disciplines she thought she and Ryan could work at full time.

“It was really just a desire to pursue being creative and doing the things I love,” says Krystal.

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But the couple got more than they bargained for when they purchased their first letterpress, an approximately 1,500-pound behemoth that Krystal says “looks kind of like a time machine.”

“It wasn’t attached to electricity, so we couldn’t really see it, and we just kind of bought it in faith that it really was going to work,” Krystal says with a laugh.

Through internet research, assistance from a letterpress studio in Lincoln, and many sleepless nights, Ryan and Krystal had their first creation two weeks after they bought their letterpress: wedding invitations for a friend.

“We were crazy,” Ryan admits.

Now, once a client is set on a design, Krystal and Ryan can turn around a finished product in about two weeks. As they say, letterpress is a very labor-intensive process. Once Krystal and Ryan have a finished design on the computer, they will get to work creating polymer print plates to imprint with different layers of the design. Each color has to have a separate plate, so if a design has three colors, Ryan has to run it through the letterpress three times.

“It [letterpress] is an art, and it’s a product of time and labor. You can’t just do what you see on the computer on letterpress.”
– Jara Sturdivant-Wilson, customer of Sweet Afton Studios

Krystal mixes the different-colored ink by hand. Finally, once the plates, the ink, and the paper are ready to go through the letterpress, Krystal and Ryan will sometimes print hundreds of extra copies, and handpick the ones to give to clients.  “With letterpress, the thing that makes it so beautiful is that it’s hand-done, and that means that each piece is going to be unique,” says Krystal.

Jara Sturdivant-Wilson, a customer of Sweet Afton and a former neighbor of Krystal’s, agrees. She reached out to the Leichliters when she wanted to give her husband a gift with a more personal touch. Sturdivant-Wilson admitted that she didn’t have many ideas when it came to designing a gift, but that Krystal was very helpful, meeting with her throughout the process at coffee shops.

Eventually, she ended up with a calendar and a set of cards that catered to her husband’s interests. For example, one page of the calendar was designed with her husband’s favorite softball team in mind, while some of the cards featured a line-drawn picture of his dog. “It [letterpress] is an art, and it’s a product of time and labor. You can’t just do what you see on the computer on letterpress,” says Sturdivant-Wilson.

As they have learned the ropes of letterpress, Krystal and Ryan have had the time to expand their design business beyond strictly letterpress projects. One of Sweet Afton’s newest clients is the Seattle Children’s Museum. For the museum’s new displays every month, Krystal will come up with a design concept for the overall exhibit, and then work on designing signs, banners, and buttons for employees to wear. Ryan is also getting his chance to dive into design; he earned a degree in animation last year, and he plans to offer animation services to customers, as well as help Krystal with her dream of designing a children’s book with an animated component.

As their customer base has expanded, mostly through word-of-mouth, Sweet Afton Studios has started doing more business outside of Nebraska, everywhere from California to New York and even Spain. Krystal and Ryan have even had a few companies approach them about carrying some of Sweet Afton’s cards in their stores. But for now, Krystal and Ryan plan to keep all of their business online, on sites such as Etsy, The Knot, and Dribbble. While they were considering opening a storefront, they enjoy the flexibility of working from home. Krystal also wants to be able to devote more time to working on children’s illustrations.

“It’s all about having fun,” says Ryan.

Make First 
Impressions Count

January 13, 2014 by

How a business furnishes its workspace can define the company culture and help employees thrive. A well-planned office creates a good initial impression on guests and draws in potential candidates; it also improves the productivity and attitudes of your employees. With the right interiors and good quality furniture, you can set the tone of your business and impress potential clients from the minute they step into your office. 
Here are a few things to take into consideration when planning your office space:

  • Lobby. Start with a reception station that is warm and inviting. Add guest or lounge seating and occasional tables to complete the welcome area.
  • Conference room. The size of the table you need depends on the number of people you need to fit around it. Allow 30 inches per person to keep meetings comfortable. Conference chairs typically don’t require the advanced functionality of a work chair, so look for low or mid-back chairs that provide basic function and support.
  • Private office. Executives and managers typically need desks and an executive chair. Consider appearance as well as functionality to strike the right mix of prestige, professionalism, and personality.
  • Seating. Over one third of an average employee’s day is spent in the office. If the office furniture causes discomfort or pain, it may create serious dangers to your health. It’s necessary that office furniture, particularly office chairs, be ergonomically designed. An ergonomic workplace promotes better work management and organization among staff and also makes the environment more relaxed and pleasant.
  • Filing area/copy center. A good mix of shared and private storage helps keep common areas better organized and employees more productive.

Visit the All Makes showroom at 25th and Farnam streets in Omaha to see the latest office furniture and design trends on display. The All Makes team is trained to help you make design and furniture purchases that fit your office atmosphere, your work style, and your budget.

RetroShirtz

January 10, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“He does everything I don’t want to do and vice versa,” says Andy Robinson of his business partner, Brad Richling.

Maybe that’s what has given RetroShirtz such momentum. In rapid succession, the business launched in January, opened its first storefront in May, and opened its second location in Westroads Mall in early November.

Their first storefront (OmahaShirtz), at 464 S. 84th St., is like many shirt-printing shops: It’s tucked on the back side of a small shopping center, and Robinson will give you directions over the phone. RetroShirtz, on the other hand, can be found on the first floor of Westroads, between DSW and Journeys.

A presence in a mall, among the foot traffic and the food court, makes more sense for their nuanced approach to the printing business—custom-ordered shirts printed while the customer waits.

“We can print a shirt in four minutes,” says Richling. “We make, right then and there, their product, exactly as they want it—their size, their style, their color.”

Customers can choose from hundreds of designs already made or provide their own photo, image, or quote. And then they can choose from a wide stock of shirts—or even bring in their own.

“We’re in a mall,” says Richling. “You want to print on something different? Go buy it, and, as long as it’s 100 percent cotton, we can print on it.” He adds, “Today, for example, somebody came in with a maternity shirt”—a market that doesn’t seem to have much selection in quirky t-shirts.

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Their designs will include retro cartoons and throwback references, as well as pop-culture references and parodies. Customers can create their own ideas or bring in their smart phone and get a photo printed on a shirt—or a canvas, another major offering from RetroShirtz.

What makes their rapid service possible is a new technology that connects the fabric printer directly to a computer. Everything is digital.

This isn’t a traditional screen-printing process, where screens have to be burned for each order, which takes some time. The cost of a screen is often placed on the customer, or at least there’s a minimum number of items you have to print. Nor is it an iron-on process, where the image has a separate field from the fabric and a plastic feel.

Their process, according to Richling, is “somewhere between tattooing and airbrushing 
the fabric.”

“The shirt will wear away before the image wears away,” adds Robinson.

This quality is a chief priority for the pair. “We want people to see our shirts and say, ‘Whoa! Cool shirt! Where did you get that?’” 
Richling says.

They’re confident that their level of quality will keep people coming back, especially coupled with their emphasis on customer service.

“We always ask each other when a customer leaves, ‘Did that person leave happy?’” Richling says. “We know that returns and referrals are going to drive the business.”

They’ve already started developing a return clientele, which has fueled their rapid growth. Looking on to the holidays, they do anticipate sometimes getting behind on orders, even with their four-minute print time.

“If we do get backed up, we’ll be able to say, ‘Come back in 45 minutes. Go shopping or go get lunch in the food court, and it will be ready by the time you come back,’” Robinson says.

They are happy to make arrangements for later pick-ups, particularly with larger orders, and they do have shipping options.

Mostly, they’re just really excited. Both are first-time entrepreneurs and have loved creating a new avenue for a beloved tradition. Richling says, “We live in a culture of people that want it now, so we’re going to try to provide for that.”

Hashtags 


January 8, 2014 by

Thanks to Saturday Night Live’s runaway hit sketch “#Hashtag” last September, even people living under rocks have heard of hashtags. If you’re in charge of your business’ social media, however, you may not be any more confident as to how to make the humble pound sign work for you.

But it’s not difficult, promise. Maren Hogan, CEO of Red Branch Media, makes it simple: “It’s just a quicker way to search.” A social media post (usually in Twitter, though Facebook is playing along) that’s tagged with #BigOmaha or #HRTechChat is instantly added to an entire conversation that other social media users can follow. “If you want your content to stand out,” Hogan says, “or if you’re trying to reach a niche audience, you can use [the hashtag] in skill-specific chats.”

What if you’re not ready to jump into a real-time chat on Twitter just yet? Hogan says blog it, tweet the link, and tag it with the chat’s hashtag. But don’t be afraid to chime in eventually. “You can chat with real professionals all over the world,” Hogan says. “You can establish yourself as a thought leader.”

Even if you’re not adding to a Twitter conversation about your industry or laughing with other tweeting conference-goers about the latest keynote, you can search hashtags for some basic lead generation. “Even by following something simple like #omaha,” says Ben Pankonin, founder and CEO of Social Assurance, “I can start to follow what people in Omaha are saying about a given topic.”

Third-party applications like Hootsuite allow users to create “streams”—feeds that contain only tweets pertaining to certain topics. One of the ways to filter a stream is, of course, by following a particular hashtag. “In health care, you may want to know what nurses are looking for,” Pankonin says. “So you might follow #RNChat. If you’re looking for people who are in finance, you might follow #finserv.”

Hogan relates one innovative lead-generation technique she’s seen: “Someone wasn’t able to attend a conference for her industry, but she followed the hashtag and took note of people who were tweeting from it.” Ta-da! A target market list based on hashtag users.

Okay, but how does one find these hashtags in the first place? “To find hashtags already in use, you have to be paying attention,” Pankonin says. “Listening. Trying out keywords. You have to look around. It takes a bit of discovery to get you there.”

The hashtag is nothing if not versatile. Other uses aside from search include cross-posting. Simply adding #fb or #in can send your tweet flying to Facebook or LinkedIn if you’ve linked your accounts.

And let’s not leave out the faux hashtag. Tagging a photo of an employee’s dog in the office with #newrecruit isn’t so much beneficial for search or lead generation as it is for, well, a light laugh. “They can be a great way to be relevant and human and funny,” Hogan says.

“People are social,” Pankonin points out. “Companies recognize that we see people face to face less frequently than we used to. In social media, humor translates very well.”

“Just recognize when a trend is happening, when it’s cresting, and when it’s over,” Hogan cautions. “The only one who’s going to hashtag YOLO these days is someone who’s desperately out of touch.”

Unless part of your online presence is you cheerfully being 15 minutes behind the times, she adds. Then, yeah. Go for it.

Powering Across the Finish Line

January 6, 2014 by

It was man versus machine. An epic competition of tug-o-war. A true test of physical and mental strength. An all-out battle to the finish line where everyone who competed was a winner.

On May 18, Performance Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Bellevue hosted a truck pull for charity. Six local teams pulled heavyweight Ram trucks, competing to raise money for their favorite charities. The dealership gave away more than $4,000 in cash prizes at its first annual Performance Community Truck Pull. The grand prize of $1,500 went to the wrestling team from Bellevue East High School. The team raised money to support the costly medical treatments for their fellow East graduating senior, Jake Pannell, who was diagnosed with lymphoma last year.

Tyrone Williams, president and general manager of Performance, says the concept for the truck pull was devised by his managers and Carroll Communications. “We are having discussions about this being an annual event. I was looking for an event to introduce the dealership to the Bellevue community as well support the community,” he says. In a family-friendly atmosphere that boasted food, fun, and face painting, the dealership encouraged the community to not only support their favorite competing team but also to simply take a look around the new facility.

The team from Bellevue East High School pulls a 2500 Ram truck at the Performance Bellevue dealership to raise money for graduating senior Jake Pannell, who was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma last year. East Principal Brad Stueve runs alongside the team cheering them on.

The team from Bellevue East High School pulls a 2500 Ram truck at the Performance Bellevue dealership to raise money for graduating senior Jake Pannell, who was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma last year. East Principal Brad Stueve runs alongside the team cheering them on.

Performance ensured that none of the six competing teams walked away empty handed. Teams included Bellevue University, Bellevue East High School, Bellevue West High School, Bellevue Community Foundation, Offutt Police, and Bellevue Fire and Police. “The turnout was excellent, and the store donated over $4,200 to the charities. Carroll Communications, the Bellevue Chamber, and Mayor Rita Sanders were very instrumental in helping us pull the event off,” Williams says.

Matt Briggs, head coach of men’s soccer at Bellevue University, says he was grateful that his team competed in such a charitable cause. “We raised money for the Wounded Warrior Family Support group and raised $750,” he shares.

The Bellevue Community Foundation also competed, winning $250 to support the city of Bellevue. Mayor Sanders says she was thrilled with the funds raised and equally excited that they would be going toward the newly created Bellevue Community Foundation. “It came about through the City of Bellevue strategic plan,” she says. “I was tasked to start a community foundation so we can help the community raise money individually or privately. The Community Foundation can help aid with some of the support systems through the city.”